Posted in Christian living, Uncategorized

Starting fresh

blogIMG_6948Words of wisdom for 2016, where can you find them? If you google New Year’s quotations, the following passage may appear on your computer screen. 

“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.” ~G.K. Chesterton

When I first came across this Chesterton quote, I squirreled it away in my tattered old quotation notebook for later use.  I expected that it would make a great accompaniment to a New Year’s post in this blog.

Which brings me to my reason for writing this.  That quotation turned out to have even more meaning for me than just a nice quote to add to today’s post because I discovered that a vital portion of that passage written by Chesterton (English writer, 1874-1936) was omitted. 

The rest of Chesterton’s passage reads: “Unless a man starts on the strange assumption that he has never existed before, it is quite certain that he will never exist afterwards.  Unless a man be born again, he shall by no means enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Chesterton was not only a prolific writer and profound thinker of his time, he was a Christian apologist.  His book, The Everlasting Man, was read by a young atheist and proved instrumental in that young man becoming a Christian.  Who was the atheist?  C.S. Lewis, famous author of The Chronicles of Narnia.

Reading the passage in its entirety gave me pause to consider.  Everyone can identify with the point Chesterton makes about starting afresh.  Isn’t that what we attempt when the New Year rolls around?

We begin that brand new year with good intentions.  Perhaps we even make resolutions to [insert your to-do list here], supposedly to improve our health, well-being, stop bad habits, whatever.  

A new year is a new beginning.  But isn’t each and every day a new beginning?  Why don’t we start afresh every morning, not just on New Year’s Day?

Instead we tend to make promises (resolutions) we don’t or can’t or won’t keep.  We start off great guns adhering to our resolutions and then we slough off.  Most of the time we hang on to our old ways, our old baggage, our old vices…our old stuff.  And each day becomes just like the one before.

What if we did just one thing fresh by starting each day with God’s Word instead of trying to force ourselves to stick to our resolutions? 

What if we commenced that new beginning we’re given each day upon awakening by spending it with a Savior? 

Because that’s exactly what the last part of Chesterton’s passage tells us: “Unless a man be born again (accept the gift of salvation and belief in Jesus Christ – my words here), he shall by no means enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.”

So how do I choose to live each day afresh?  The answer for me is in God’s Word. 

The Apostle Paul wrote these words for the church in Ephesus and for us in Ephesians 5: 15-20: “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Being careful how I live, making the most of every opportunity, giving thanks.  That’s what is important to me.

That’s what I want to bring into each new day in this New Year of 2016 instead of making resolutions I no doubt would break. How about you?

May it be so.

“What the New Year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the New Year.” — Vern McLellan

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Posted in Christian living

When you don’t want the force to be with you

blogIMG_1081It is a force to be reckoned with – the force of nature. 

I’ve seen it in violent thunder storms.  I’ve witnessed its aftermath when a swirling tempest of a tornado swept down from the sky and annihilated everything in its path.  And I’ve watched nature’s strength in the ebb and flow of ocean waves on both coasts of my country.

The force of nature is evident in raging flood waters, the ferocious wind of a hurricane, the blinding intensity of a blizzard of snow.  Nature is powerful.  It is mighty and potent.  And human nature can be just as forceful. 

This week’s photo challenge theme, as you may have guessed, is “force of nature.”  I considered several photos I’ve taken that would fit the theme but in the end, I chose the picture above.  I snapped it one summer evening when a gusty wind kicked up and some fierce looking storm clouds blew into my neighborhood.

Dark, menacing clouds quickly surged over my house and I ran outside with my camera to capture their intensity.  I have to admit it was a little daunting and downright scary.

This photo reminded me that our human nature to become angry works much the same way as those ominous storm clouds.  Anger swirls in with such nefarious power that it can overwhelm us by its sheer force.  And often wrath overtakes us and causes us to say or do things we never would if we were not under the influence of ire and we didn’t let our human nature prevail.

I still recall a time when a person crossed my path with wrongful actions that stirred up my anger.  No, make that fury.   And frankly, my reaction scared the living daylights out of me.

See that’s the problem when I let my sinful human nature take charge.  It resorts to anger, resentment, bitterness, all totally ugly aspects of the forces of my human nature.

And it just seems like I can’t exist a day in this world without encountering something or someone or some event that makes me angry, that calls up that force of nature within me.  And I don’t like it one bit.

That’s why I must turn to my Guidebook for Life, my Bible, every day I breathe.   If left to my own devices, I would choose to let the dark forces overtake me.  But I won’t.  And I have to strive so very hard not to do so. 

When I find myself in the grips of wrath, when I’m enveloped in rage, incensed to the core, I must repeat this verse from James 1:19-21:  “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.  Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”

That’s not to say that some anger isn’t warranted; there is righteous anger and even Jesus showed that.  

But the kind of anger I’m talking about makes me realize I need to remember the words of the Apostle Paul each and every day.  “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” ~ Ephesians 4:30-32 (NIV)

Some wrongs committed against us that cause us to burn with anger seem unforgivable.  That’s when I must remind myself that some acts (sins) we commit against God might also seem unforgivable, yet He gives us the gift of grace, forgiveness of our wrongdoings when we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior of our lives. 

The key is repentance, asking for forgiveness, and turning away from our transgression.

I may not be able to control the forces of nature in the outside world, but I can control the forces of my own human nature.  May God give me the strength and endurance to do so.

“Man’s chief enemy is his own unruly nature and the dark forces pent up within him.” ~  Ernest A. Jones

©2015 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Posted in Christian living, Christmas ornaments

Broken

blogIMG_4790It happened while I was trimming the tree.

I hauled the over-sized plastic tote full of ornaments up from the basement, opened it, and started to carefully unwrap all the baubles, balls, and special decorations packed in it. 

Each one brings back memories.  There are the ones we purchased at various locations where we’ve vacationed over the years.  There are the ones commemorating special times in our lives like family occasions or anniversaries or new homes.  There are the antique ones which used to hang on my childhood Christmas tree at my parents’ home.  And there are the ones made and/or given by special friends which always bring them to mind.

I arranged the ornaments and since I was adorning the tree alone, I needed to use the step stool to reach the top third of the tree because, yes, I am too short and Papa usually is assigned that task.  The tree was almost completely embellished with all of its garnishes when, while standing on the top step of the stool, I leaned into the tree a bit to hang a wee star ornament that I remember buying in a specialty shop in Seattle. 

And that’s when I heard it, that familiar jingle jangling sound of something falling off the tree followed by the sound of splintering glass. I suspected it was one of the ordinary department store variety glass balls which I have plenty of and wouldn’t miss. 

I glanced down to the side of my stool and there a glass ball lay, perfectly intact on the living room carpeted floor.  Okay, no problem.  But then as I stepped back down off the stool, I saw something else and immediately, I cried, “Oh, no!”

Lying at the base of the stool was a broken glass ornament which apparently had hit the metal step stool on its way to the floor.  Oh, not this one!  This one was irreplaceable. 

It was a clear glass ball with the face of Jesus inside.  This one was special and always hangs front and center on our evergreen tree.  This one was crafted and given to me by a church friend when we lived all the way across the country in the Pacific Northwest those many years ago.

Shards of glass sprinkled my living room carpet and I gingerly picked up the largest pieces left and placed them on the top step of the stool as I vacuumed up the rest of the mess. Why did it have to be that one, I thought.  Why not one of those that had no special memories attached to it?

But then I looked – really looked – at the broken ornament. 

Broken.  Jesus.  He was broken.   

And it occurred to me that is exactly what He did for us.  He allowed himself to be broken. Broken for you.  Broken for me.  Broken on an old rugged cross to save us from eternal death because no matter how hard we try, we just can’t be good enough to save ourselves.

Immediately the words from the King James Version of the Bible came to mind.  That passage in 1 Corinthians 11:23-24 where the Apostle Paul tells us that on the very night He was betrayed, Jesus took bread, gave thanks for it, broke it, and told us to eat the bread, which symbolized His soon to be broken body.  And to do that to remember Him.

“And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.” ~  1 Corinthians 11:24 KJV  

Just last week, I read a friend’s Facebook status which was a quote by Pete Wilson, pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN.  Wilson said, “Jesus didn’t come into a perfect world full of perfect people, He came into a broken world full of broken people so that He could redeem us.”  

Yes!  That was exactly what that broken ornament at the beginning of December reminded me.

So as Christmas Day approaches, I will celebrate the birth of my Savior.  I will sing of that tiny babe born in a manger, the One who came to save us all, the most amazing gift God has ever given us. 

But I will also remember the grown up Jesus. The One who was born in Bethlehem, lived a human life yet became the Savior who entered this broken world to save broken people like me and you by allowing His own body to be broken. 

I will sing Joy to the World, the Lord is come, let earth receive her King and I will rejoice not just for the babe in a manger but for the Son of God on the cross and the empty tomb of Resurrection Sunday.  

And I will give thanks for a broken Christmas ornament that reminds me.

Let every heart prepare Him room and heaven and nature sing.

God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume.”  ~ Vance Havner

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in Christian living

Repurposing me

blogIMG_4325
Father-in-law’s wooden puzzle from childhood

Repurposing appears to be all the rage now days. 

What today’s savvy crafter or decorator calls repurposing – using something old or that could  be discarded for an entirely new purpose – is what we used to call just reusing what we had lying around the house or garage.  My parents were experts at reusing.  Both of them grew up during the Great Depression and money was not just tight, in some instances it was practically non-existent, so they learned from their parents to reuse everything possible.

Maybe that’s why my father had an over-sized two-car garage full of all kinds of bits and pieces:  old electrical wiring and plugs, any kind of old screws, nuts, bolts, or nails, jars, pieces of lumber/tile/whatever, string/rope/twine, parts for this and parts from that, and on and on and on.  My parents only threw something away when it was totally unusable.  And many times that whatsit that Dad had saved in the garage came handy for fixing or fabricating something else.

Fast forward to current times.  Everyone is ‘repurposing.’  You can find scads of ideas on Pinterest and there are entire websites dedicated to reusing, remaking, and repurposing all kinds of things.  I noticed some really great ideas and some incredulous ones as well (like turning an old baby Grand piano into a fountain) on this Twisted Sifter site. And I regularly check out interesting reusing ideas on the Facebook page Hometalk.

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Mother’s childhood cabinet

I’ve repurposed a number of things right here at Mama’s Empty Nest now that I have more time on my hands.  After my mom passed away, I inherited one of her toys – a child-sized wooden cabinet that she put her play dishes in as a little girl.  It gathered dust in my basement for several years because I just didn’t know what I wanted to do with it. 

One day I brought it upstairs, cleaned and polished it and found a spot in my dining room for it.   I repurposed it by adorning it with some vintage doilies and various tea-related items in addition to special tea cups and saucers and my mother-in-law’s antique cream pitchers and was happy with the result.  I especially like that it reminds me not only of my mom and my mother-in-law but also the friends and family who gave me the gifts it now holds.

Repurpose Win #1.

After my father passed, my sisters and I faced the monumental task of cleaning out our parents’ home and garage – not an easy job in lots of ways.  In the garage, I found the old insulated dairy box that used to stand on our porch for the milkman to deposit our weekly bottles of milk in when I was a kid.  It was still in relatively decent shape, and since neither one of my sisters wanted it, it came home with me.  Of course, it too found a dusty spot in my basement to hide.  This summer, I repurposed it into a flower pot container for pretty red geraniums on my front porch.

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Old milk box back on the porch

Repurpose Win #2.

For years, my hubby has kept a wooden puzzle in an old cardboard stationary box of his mother’s.  The puzzle is most unique in that it is printed on both sides – one side is the face of a clock in Roman numerals, the other gives the seasons of the year, names of the months, and how many days each month has.  The puzzle is special to us because it was a boyhood toy for my father-in-law who was born in 1898 (yes, you read that right!).  Instead of being hidden away in a box, this little bit of family history now rests inside a glass frame and hangs on my husband’s study wall (see photo at top).

Repurpose Win #3.

So repurposing – I’ve been up for it.  I’ve managed it.  There are still some items in my home that I have plans to reuse in one way or another.  That’s the easy aspect of repurposing.  Just go online, look up ideas, scan a few magazines, voila! You’ve got an idea what to do and how to do it.

But when it comes to life?  How do you repurpose that?  Not so easy.  That’s something I’ve been struggling with for over a year now.  Altering your life is so much more difficult than altering an object.  Finding a new purpose for yourself proves harder than finding a new purpose for an old, dusty thing.

This passage of scripture from 2 Timothy 2:20-21 which I read in The Message the other day encouraged me:   “In a well-furnished kitchen there are not only crystal goblets and silver platters, but waste cans and compost buckets—some containers used to serve fine meals, others to take out the garbage. Become the kind of container God can use to present any and every kind of gift to his guests for their blessing.”

With God’s guidance and according to His purpose, I believe He’s repurposing me, altering my container so I can be used to bless others.

And I’m hoping.  And praying.  And waiting for Repurpose Win #4.

“Living involves tearing up one rough draft after another.” ~Author Unknown

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in Christian living

Under the surface

blogIMG_3477I’m no stranger to dirt.

I’ve played in it. Sat in it. Walked in it barefoot. Worn it. And breathed it in.

See, I grew up in the country so I know a thing or two about dirt. As a child, I played in it. A lot. I liked digging in it, squirting it with water to make mud, and flinging it around. I might have even wallowed in it from time to time.

My neighborhood pals and I sprawled in the dirt regularly making roadways using play trucks, cars, and diggers and played mud pie restaurant. I loved dragging my bare feet in the soft, worn to fine dust that rested beneath my tree hung swing. After a day delving in soil,  my mother made me plunge into the old porcelain tub and I watched the bath water turn brown from a day long wardrobe of dirt and leave a ring around the tub.

I’ve perched on more metal and wooden bleachers than I can remember and breathed in dust kicked up by a bunch of boys playing baseball on a dirt field. And I’ve even unwillingly inhaled the Oklahoma dirt that swirls through the air in a dust storm.

As a child and adult, I’ve dug deep into soil countless times to plant flowers and vegetables in gardens. I’ve plucked, yanked, and dug long-rooted weeds out of the dirt. I’ve clawed the dirt. Troweled the dirt. Spaded the dirt. Shoveled the dirt.

Yes, I know dirt.

So why is it that on a blue sky-filled day, warmed by the sun’s kisses, I scream like a banshee while gardening in the dirt? Last week blessings in the form of summer-like days prompted some work outdoors here at the nest. While Papa power-washed the grit and grime of winter off the siding of our house, I shined up a few dirty windows. After accomplishing those tasks, Papa set out to tame the unruly bank of wild weeds with the whirly, whiny whacker and I settled down for a nice afternoon of weeding the flower beds and around the shrubbery. Lots of spring rain produced weeds in those areas in abundance.

So I donned my new gardening gloves, grabbed my knee kneeler pad, my gardening tools, and a bucket to fling uprooted weeds into and plunked myself down. Dig. Dig. Pull. Throw. I worked into a steady routine. Dig. Dig. Pull. Throw.

Those weeds had met their nemesis and her name was Mama. And then it happened Dig. Dig. Jump and screech. My spade had uncovered a fishing worm. A fishing worm. You ask why does a country raised girl scream over unearthing an earthworm? I don’t know.

Because like I said, I know dirt. I know what’s in the dirt. And I’ve encountered earthworms there as long as I can remember.

As always when I’m gardening, all kinds of creepy crawlies in all shapes and sizes come into my view. Some of them are kind of cute like the rolly pollies and some of them are truly creepy like the spiders. But those earthworms – benign to me and beneficial to the soil – those crawly, segmented creatures freak me out when they suddenly appear.

I’m not certain if it’s just the surprise of an emerging worm snaking its way around in the clump of dirt in my hand or just the creature itself, but I always shriek and throw him down immediately. Then I shiver a little, push him aside with my spade, and move on my merry way because once I’m over the shock, I’m okay with seeing that little critter.

But I wonder what causes me to emit that eeewww feeling over the poor lowly earthworm? I think I can trace it back to childhood. My best friend lived next door and she had a younger sister who, shall we say, was a tad ornery? Younger gal tended to stir up trouble and cause issues when we played together. Like the one time when she drew an imaginary line in the grass with her Keds shod foot and declared that if I stepped one inch over that line I would be on her parents’ property and she would call the state police to come get me for trespassing. Yeah, and she was about six years old at the time. So, you get my drift.

This meddlesome little girl (who, by the way, turned into a nice enough adult) was also a bit fearless. And I think she enjoyed any way she could devise to torture her sister and me.  I distinctly remember her sidling up beside us all nice and sweet-like and then…surprise! She would fling earthworms or parts of them at our faces! Of course, the shock of it all would cause us to shriek at the top of our lungs and run like crazy away from her.

So this flinch and yelp reaction I have to suddenly appearing fishing worms must be a throwback to those childhood days. Whatever the reason, while digging and plucking weeds under our peonies in preparation to put down new mulch, I shuddered and squawked when a worm appeared in my hand.

And that set me to thinking as sometimes ordinary everyday occurrences often do in my empty nest world. We never know what’s just under the surface, do we? We plod along in life, thinking we’re plucking out all of the bad stuff. You know, the obvious things we attempt to rid ourselves of like gossip, dishonesty, selfishness, bitterness…the list goes on. We pluck those nasty weeds right out of our garden of life and say good riddance to them. Of course, they often grow back, but we just yank them out again and hope this time, this time we really uprooted them.

But often, that ugly weed – you can call it sin because it surely is – remains just under the surface. It works its way around deep down in our hearts when we’re not even aware of it. Just like an earthworm, it weaves its way in and out of the soil underneath, out of view, forgotten until suddenly…surprise!

It’s brought to light, emerging from its depths, like that earthworm in my spade full of dirt. And we’re shocked by its appearance because we just didn’t realize it was under the surface the entire time. We may throw it down and try to run away from it. But it just works its way back down into the dirt unless we get serious about sifting through our own dirt.

I can survive a little scare when an earthworm shows up in my garden and even in my hand. But I don’t want to find ugliness weaving its way around the beautiful things in my garden of life. That’s why I call upon the Master Gardener and His Word to help me sift through my dirt.

Because believe me, I’m no stranger to dirt.

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” ~ Colossians 2:6-7

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in Christian living, Maundy Thursday, remembering

Do this in remembrance

blogIMG_0492It’s Maundy Thursday – a day of remembrance for those of us who are Christians.

Good Friday is but a day away.  And then we wait for the day spectacular.  The day of rejoicing.  Resurrection Day!  Easter Sunday – the day Jesus proved He is the way to victory over death.

But as we wait, we commemorate.  Tonight at church, we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper.   As believers in Christ, we will gather together in our country church.  We will read Scripture and ponder those last days Jesus lived on earth in human form.

We will follow in His footsteps.  We will eat a meal together – we call it a Love Feast – just as He did with His disciples before He was arrested, tried, convicted, beaten, and crucified on a cross.

John 13:1:  “It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love.”

Today we will partake in Communion.  We will break specially prepared bread, handmade by our church deacons using a long-used recipe.  We will give thanks for it before we eat, just as our Savior did before he spoke these words recorded in Luke 22:19: “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

Then we will take the cup, again giving thanks in remembrance of what our Lord did for us on the cross when His blood poured forth to save our souls. In the same way, after the supper He took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”  ~ Luke 22:20

But there is something else we will do.  It may seem unusual to some, but it is an integral part of our faith as we remember the significance of this Holy Week, the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made for human kind, and the love that overflowed from Him.

We will fill basins with water, gather towels, and kneel in front of other fellow believers in Christ and wash their feet.

“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God; so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.  After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him.” ~ John 13:3-5

In Jesus’ day, prior to a communal meal, it was common to have your dirty, dusty feet washed before reclining at a low table to eat.  This job was relegated to a lowly servant. Jesus demonstrated the ultimate in love, humility, and servanthood by performing this act for His disciples.

And then He told them and us, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.  I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, not is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” ~ John 13:14-17

So why do we do wash the feet of another?  Not only do we do so to follow Jesus’ example, but also because even though as believers we have been washed clean of our sins when we come to Christ, we need cleansing from living in a sin-stained world.

Sanctification (cleansing) is performed by the power of the Holy Spirit through the “washing with water by the Word” (Ephesians 5:26).   As followers of Jesus, we desire to emulate Him, serve others with humility in our hearts and minds, and build one another up in love.

It is then that we will be equipped for every good work.  (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

On this best day of the year, I can’t think of a better way to spend it than serving my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ by following the footsteps of Jesus.

©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in Christian living

These boots (or shoes) were made for walking

blogIMG_0314It’s odd to be thinking about new shoes when lately all I have been wearing are boots.

Wearing shoes outside this last week or so would just result in wet feet since my home is still encased in a snow globe world.

So shoes, old or new, haven’t really been on my mind.  Until today, when I realized I needed to write about new shoes.

Over the weekend, I yanked a pair of boots on yet again when hubby and I ventured out shopping.   I actually looked at a pair of shoes on the sale rack, but then dismissed the idea of buying them because: a.  I really didn’t need them;  b.  boots adorn my feet when I’m going anywhere this time of year since it’s snowy, icy, or just plain cold outside;  and c.  they weren’t that cute.

I didn’t think about shoes again until yesterday. Cue the new shoes reference.

During worship at our little country church, a choir member sang a solo entitled New Shoes.  As I listened to the song lyrics, “So I’ve made my reservation for my final destination, I’m changing my location to my mansion in the sky; gonna wear me some new clothes, bright shiny white robes, walk ’round in new shoes getting ready to move,” an idea popped into my head.

I found myself thinking about new shoes and wondering if really we would even need shoes in heaven.  I mean, who knows?  There are references to some form of white garments in the Bible, but I can’t find anything scriptural about having shoes in heaven, new or otherwise.

Now I am aware that for some people getting new shoes is heaven, and that some shoe stores named Shoe Heaven actually exist.  So there’s something heavenly about new shoes that attracts us humans.  I admit it floats my boat to buy new shoes, my mother also loved shoes, and my daughters are a bit shoe-crazy themselves.

Cue the next new shoes reference.

I decided to do some online research about shoes in heaven because, you know, Google is the final authority about everything (please know I’m being sarcastic, and if you’re seeking any Bible references,  use a reputable source not just someone’s goofy answer on Google).  But first I logged into Facebook to see what was happening in my friends’ worlds.

Apparently, buying new shoes.  Yep, a Facebook friend posted this status:  “Somehow new shoes always make me feel better ;)”

New shoes.  Again.  And that reminded me of another song about new shoes [click to hear it], which for some crazy reason, cheers me up every time I hear it and not just because it happens to be the cell ringtone when oldest daughter calls me.

So I started singing, “Hey, I put some new shoes on and suddenly everything is right I said, hey, I put some new shoes on and everybody’s smiling, it’s so inviting.”

Hey, some new shoes…and that all brought me back to my initial question.   Will we wear new shoes or any shoes in heaven?

I don’t know.  But I do know that while we’re still here on earth, the Lord has given us much instruction on how we are to walk, regardless of our shoes.

Scripture tells us to walk faithfully, walk in obedience, walk in wisdom, walk blameless, walk in the light, walk humbly, walk by the Spirit, walk in the way of love, and walk in truth.

That’s a lot of walking!  So maybe we do need new shoes after all.  And maybe that’s why new shoes make us feel good and downright happy.

An old German proverb advises us, “Don’t throw away your old shoes before you have new shoes.”   That’s pretty decent advice unless you want to be bare-footed, but I do believe it’s wise to ‘throw away’ your old shoes if they’re taking you to places you shouldn’t go.

Even Dr. Seuss gave us some thoughts about where our feet should take us when he wrote, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own.  And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

blogIMG_0352It’s true.  We decide where our feet, clad in old or new shoes, will take us.  We choose our direction, our paths.  God has given us the freedom to choose, to use our free will.

For me, whether my feet are shod in boots or shoes, new or old, or I’m just barefooted, I want to walk the way Jesus shows me.

And to do that, I need to be reading His words, binding His truth to my mind and heart.

“When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you.” ~ Proverbs 6:22

On this best day of the year, where are your shoes taking you? Do you need new shoes?

©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in Christian living, Faith

Burn out

blogIMG_0396Lately, images of fire dart across my mind’s radar screen.

Of course, the news reports about wild fires out west attracted my attention and the sight of all that devastation leaves me rife with sympathy for those who’ve lost their homes.

To continue the fiery theme, last week my blog received the “Blog On Fire” award.  Shortly before that, an amazing display of fiery color occurred in my own backyard at sunset one evening – an image I managed to capture with my camera and post yesterday on Wordless Wednesday.

Even the weather speaks of fire to me with sultry hot and humid days and nights, which make me feel like I’m burning up and bring old sayings to my thoughts like “hotter than Hades,” or my personal favorite, “hotter than a flicker’s nest,” a phrase my Mom used to utter.

All these fire images got me to thinking.  You know the problem with fire is you can get burned out.  When there’s not enough fuel to sustain a fire, it flickers, it fades, and it dies out.  Done.  Consumed.  Burned out.  Cold.

Sometimes that’s exactly how I feel – in my real life and in my writing life – like I don’t have enough sustainable fuel to keep the fire going.  As I examine why I feel so consumed, I can list off a litany of reasons.

I’m tired.  I’m overwhelmed with too many tasks to accomplish.  The summer doldrums I usually encounter this time of year just weigh me down.  The emotional aspect of our middle daughter getting married recently and preparing for our other two adult children’s weddings is taking a toll on me.  I’m feeling a bit melancholy over the fact that all of our children will again be far from the homestead.

Now that middle daughter is married, she and son-in-law have commenced their newly-wedded life in the state south of us.  When son marries in two months, he and our new daughter-in-law will live in the state to the east of us.  And we just learned that oldest daughter and her fiancé will set up housekeeping in his city – a state several hours southwest – once they become man and wife.

It’s entirely possible that all these circumstances explain why I feel burned out and used up.  I spoke with a very good friend lately and confided some of this to her as well as the fact that on top of all of these reasons, I’m also encountering a very dry spell in my walk of faith.

I know this happens from time to time.  I’ve experienced it before, but I don’t like it.  Here’s how I would describe this experience:

You used to feel revived, just like a continuous mountain stream might provide refreshment, by the living God each day.    Cool and alive, moving forward.  You’re nourished by God and His Word and saturated with His living water.

Then for some reason, the dry season comes just like the drought that holds much of our country tight in its grip right now.  You feel withered.   Parched.  Like you’re in the middle of a hot, desolate desert.

Here’s the part that causes me to often struggle.   I know my Savior.  I know the answer to my thirst, the solution for the dryness is in His Word.  All I have to do is open it and partake.  It’s like when you turn on your kitchen faucet.  Cool water pours forth.  You need to grab your cup, fill it up, and drink to quench your thirst.  And even though I know this, I don’t do it.  My Bible sits unopened; my prayer times prove shoddy and quick at best.

I have an amazing friend who is an ardent prayer warrior.  I know she prays for me.  She told me she often pictures those she prays for as vessels which have been turned over on their sides and are starting to empty.  So she prays for God to fill them up.

As she’s been praying for me, she saw me as a vessel not just turned over, but turned upside down and emptied out.  She softly added that she doesn’t tell me this to hurt me.  I replied that this image doesn’t hurt me because I know it is truth and she has put into words exactly how I feel.  Upside down and empty.

That is how life feels sometimes, even the life of a believer in Christ.  We endeavor to live each day with gratitude and joy, but some days, our humanity, our very humanness gets the upper hand and we just don’t feel it.

But then something truly amazing happens.  Even amid a burned out, worn out wasteland, God is a God of restoration.  He tells me that in scripture, but when I can’t, or don’t, or won’t read that for myself, He shows me.

I see firsthand His restoration in my parched, dried, crunchy brown lawn when he sends refreshing rain to green my grass yet again.  He demonstrates restoration when I gaze at the farmer’s field next to my home.  Once it was a wasteland of overgrown brush and briars, ugly to behold.  Now, it boasts stalk after stalk of lushly green corn, growing by inches each and every day.

Wildflowers at Flight 93 Memorial

He reminded me of His restoring power when we visited Shanksville, PA recently and I viewed the farmland which was violated, shredded, torn, and burned when Flight 93 crashed there on September 11, 2001.  In place of the horror that field represents, gorgeous wildflowers now grow as God restores that land.

And He proves to me that even though I feel distant from Him, worn down, and burned out, He is still with me (or as my prayerful friend says, “He knows your address.”).  He still cares, He still protects, He still loves me unconditionally – empty and parched, tired vessel that I am.

How do I know this is true?  Because as I trudged to my mailbox one weary day, I glanced across the road, and God, Creator of the universe, showed me something – a group of wild daisies blooming.

Happy little white and yellow flowers that I’ve never noticed growing near my house before.  The sight of them transported me back to childhood and a summer activity I always loved as a youngster – picking a daisy and plucking each petal off of it as I recited, “He loves me, he loves me not.  He loves me, he loves me not.”

Right then I knew it!  I knew – deep in my heart and yes, in my soul – something profound resonated while observing those wildflowers by the side of the road.

I picked a daisy and as I twirled it round and round in my hand and considered plucking its petals,  it ‘spoke’ to me.  And this is what it said, “He loves you.”  Each petal of that daisy proclaimed, “He loves you.  He loves you.  He loves you!”  And I didn’t have to pluck the petals off the stem to know it.

I never have to second guess His love for me.  Even when I feel distant from God.  Even when I feel like I’m in the middle of an arid desert.  He always has loved me.  He always will.  He will restore me, and He will provide refreshment.  He will give me strength.  He will grant me joy.  He will always be with me.  That is His promise – “… lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” ~ Matthew 28:20.

And you know what?  He loves you the same.  A daisy told me so.

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”  ~ Isaiah 40:8

©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com